On Tuesday, Exelon Corp. said it would close the Three Mile Island nuclear plant located in Pennsylvania unless officials offer clean energy subsidies to nuclear generation. The plant was scheduled for retirement in 2029, so the unexpected closure would come a decade ahead of time.
Exelon has identified several of its plants as being at risk financially, but this excludes the Calvert Cliffs plant nuclear plant in Southern Maryland. So, Exelon will not attempt to obtain similar clean energy incentives in Maryland, said spokesman Paul Adams.
In 1979, the Three Mile Island site experienced a partial meltdown classified as the worst nuclear disaster in American history. Nuclear plants located throughout Pennsylvania, including Three Mile Island, generates almost all of the state’s carbon-free energy supply. However, with the influx of power to the grid from solar, wind and natural gas-fired plants, the power prices are dropping, causing the Sesquehanna River nuclear power station lose money, the company said.
The decision to close the plant comes amid an increasing debate over what types of power plants actually deserve “green” energy incentives. These usually comes in the form of federal and state mandates that require utility company to purchase renewable energy and whether states should take the necessary steps to protect carbon-free power and nuclear jobs.
Chris Crane, Exelon CEO, said the company’s position offers Pennsylvania an opportunity “to take a leadership role by implementing a policy solution to preserve its nuclear energy facilities and the clean, reliable energy and good paying jobs they provide.”
Illinois and New York have already approved legislation that gives Exelon’s fleets of aged nuclear reactors incentives that are similar to those of solar and wind farms.
Advocates do not consider nuclear power “clean”, even though they do not generate greenhouse gases. They argue incentives designated for renewable power should be earmarked for less proven and newer electricity sources.
According to Exelon officials, Three Mile Island provides enough power for nearly 800,000 households and Calvert Cliffs over 1 million households.
Exelon is headquartered in Chicago, but maintains a regional headquarters in Baltimore since 2012. A total of 675 people employed at Three Mile Island would be affected by the closure.